Monday, 17 May 2010

The' Ghost Sign' Bakery of South Wimbledon

As they are usually there in an advertising capacity, it's not often that you come across ghost signs in back streets as the number of passers-by doesn't really warrant the expense. However every now and then one does pop up, not as an advert but as a company name. I think this is the case with this frustratingly incomplete ghost sign I spotted the other week. Kirkley Road is a small residential street in the south of Wimbledon that leads onto the busy Kingston Road and pretty much the last thing I expected to see as I turned into it from Shelton Road was an intriguing old building with the remains of its signage still visible.

It's set just back off of the road and the address gives a bit of a clue as to what it might have been used for, namely The Bakery, 2A Kirkley Road. With that in mind you can just make out the word Bakers or Bakery in the top right. The other words are beyond me though: I thought The first word might have ended  -ing and that the presumed name of the Bakers might start with  KIT or even KING. It also looks as though there might be several layers of paint involved which doesn't help trying to work it out

I couldn't find much in the way to help on line for bakeries in Kirkley Road so I visited the local library to have a look at a few of the trade directories. Again not much luck until I started looking for bakeries on Kingston Road. It occurred to me that it was more than likely that the bakery was the 'behind the scenes' section of a high street shop, and as soon as I worked out roughly what number on the Kingston Road the premises would occupy then I had a few results.

92 Kingston Road seems to have been a bakery for many years, with several changes in ownership. The ones I spotted in the local Kelly's Directories were

1926             George Harrington,                     Baker
1938             Fred[eric]k, H[enr]y Martin          Baker
1940             A. H. Edwards (Caterers Ltd.)   Bakers

None of these names fit easily with the ghost sign, although I am sure that a bit more research would through up some other, later owners.It does however suggest Catering might be the first word though, making a top line of Catering Bakers a possibility. Not being too old a sign may help in the search of its origins as well so fingers crossed that someone might have some more thoughts on this one. The shop at the front is no longer a bakers but now deals with staffing for social care workers but that also looks a fairly recent transformation. So, who were the mystery bakers of South Wimbledon???

And whilst on the subject of Kirkley Road...

"Graphic Stories of Heroism & Narrow Escapes" - Wimbledon & Merton News August 23  1940
As a slight digression, one thing that came up when looking for information on the bakery was the actual position where I had stood to take some pictures! This was basically at the junction of Kirkley Road and Shelton Road and would definitely NOT have been a good place to stand on 16th August 1940 as it was the exact site where a German bomb fell in the early days of the blitz. 
According to Norman Plastow's book Safe As Houses - Wimbledon at War 1939-45 the bombs were relatively small 50kg High Explosive bombs but they caused a great deal of damage and the loss of 14 killed and 59 injured in the surrounding streets. I had a look in the local papers of the time to find the headline 'Suburbs Bombed in Nazi Attempt to Raid London - Crowd Caught In Streets During Rush Hour' . Not surprisingly no specific streets or individuals are mentioned in the newspaper coverage but it does make for interesting reading. Whether or not anyone was hurt by the Kirkley Road bomb I couldn't say but I've no doubt  the bakery would have been badly shaken up by it.

(ADDENDUM: Some interesting comments on this one and thanks for those that made them. Sebastien Ardouin has identified the top line of text as being 'Hygienic Bakery' and he certainly looks to be spot on with that one. He has an interesting article on them as well.

With regard to the August 16th raid, Duncan has pointed out that there was a picture on flicker of the bomb damage in a neighbouring street taken after the raid which is also very interesting.)


Sam Roberts said...

To me it looks like the end of the first word is '...ENIC' or '...ENIG'. Some of the old Hovis signs refer to 'Electric Machine Bakery' but this doesn't fit either. Sebastien and Aztec West are quite good at deciphering these sorts of things, you could try them...

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Lovely sign, but a tricky one to decipher. I've just had a quick look at your second picture and the first line is definitely 'Hygienic Bakery'. And, as you wrote, it really looks as if there is more than one sign on this wall. Traces of black letters can be seen on the larger maroon ones. I'm sure a bit of work with Photoshop can reveal a bit more about this sign.
Congratulation for such a discovery!

Duncan said...

Ridgway has a photo of Bathhurst Avenue the morning after the bombing on 16/08/1940. The damage looks quite extensive.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Hi Yelfy. Your discovery encouraged me to publish finally a post about hygienic bakeries I had begun some time ago but hadn't finished until now. I hope you don't mind my linking to your post.
All the best,

Yelfy said...

Thanks for all the responses on this one. 'Hygienic bakeries'? You'd sort of hope they were all hygienic but it sounds as though there's a good story in there somewhere and I look forward to reading about it. Thanks also for the link to the bomb damage in Bathurst Avenue and I'll add the link to the main body of the text -the newspaper reports talk of a car bursting into flames and I wonder if the car in the picture might have been the one? Wimbledon at the time was part of London wheras Merton wasn't and the claim was made that those that fell to the north of Kingston Road were the first bombs to fall on London proper - which probably makes the one that fell on Kirkley Road 'the last bomb to fall on Surrey before the first bomb fell on London'. Which probably sounds more significant than it is...

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Just a slight typing mistake. The last word on the first line is 'Bakery, not 'Bakers'. The upper part of the 'Y' is clearly visible. Just quibbling really...

Yelfy said...

Thanks Sebastien - typo sorted.

Anonymous said...

Clive - I think I mentioned before that my mum's cousin, John Swinfield was killed in that air-raid on 16th August 1940. He had been collecting wood at 'Brett's Factory, High Path'. Civilian casualties can be looked up on the Commonwealth War Grave Website. Mum remembers it was a Friday, as she'd just been paid and was working at Zeals, making thermometers, on the Lombard Estate.

Anonymous said...

Report from Battle of britain Campaign Diary 16/08/1940: -

At 1720 hours, HE and Incendiary Bombs were dropped at Wimbledon, Merton, Mitcham, Esher, Malden and Coombe, the principal damage being caused in the Wimbledon and Merton areas. An electric transformer was burnt out at Shannon Corner, temporarily cutting off supply to two factories. At Wimbledon a factory and sub-station were demolished and casualties are reported to be 18 dead and 57 injured.

Anonymous said...

On this day my father (a delivery driver)escorted the cashier of a grocery store (possibly Victor Values)by Wimbledon Chase bridge, to the Co-op shelter. They were married on 1st March 1941.

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Unknown said...

I can tell you 1 person's name who was injured at the Iron Foundry on Kingston Road, Wimbledon on the 16th August 1940, my Aunt's father in law, Frank Barham Woor, who later died on 21 Aug 1940 of his injuries. He lived with his wife Emma Elizabeth, at 9 Kirkley Road.


Whyperion said...

Also killed, I think on that day
Were Mr Parker of Parker and Sons Wood and Timber Yard, Nelson Grove Road, and I think Lawerence Johnson of Merton Park, Young People's Band Member of Wimbledon Salvation Army, killed walking home after Band Practice , there is a plaque to his memory in the community hall of the Salvation Army. He was the younger brother of Paul Johnson , whom after a rather interesting WW2 experience joined the probation service.

I remember the Red 'Hovis' Projecting sign from the building in Kirkley Road, but never photographed it, the building was used as a bakery until the early 80s from memory, then offices, retaining the Hovis Sign for some time.

Angela Thompson said...

My late father's brother Ronald Thompson of was also killed that day, along with his 17 yr old girlfriend. Ron was 18. He was putting a car into his dad's garage Daimler Hire that was where the annexe for the Wimbledon School of Art was later built. He had driven into the garage and his girlfriend had waited by the garage doors. The family home was 8 Bournemouth Rd.

I am not going to go into it more as the grief in my family was so deep an lasting that although it was before I was born, I still grew up seeing that grief from time to time, especially on my Grandmother who could never recover from it. I am sure it took a toll on her physical health as she aged.

I was brought up in Kirkley Rd during the 60/70's, almost opposite Shelton Rd. I can't remember the ghost sign. Maybe it was familiarity and I just never took any notice. My mum worked for a while for the taylor who was on the cornes of Kingston Rd on the odd side number of Kirkley. The people who bought my grandparents house in Bournemouth Rd, Mr and Mrs Birch, also bought the taylor's shop and turned it into The London Pottery Co.
On the opposite corner there was a nice little cafe that later became a piano shop.
The fire station was in Kingston Rd virtually opposite Kirkley Rd.
The far end of Kirkley Rd, on the evens side and on the corner of Melbourne Rd, there was Greenalls the Grocer.

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